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Dhaka Tribune

A president to mend fences

Update : 22 Apr 2013, 05:54 AM

The government’s decision to nominate Abdul Hamid as its candidate to be the next president of Bangladesh is a good one. 

From the list of potential Awami League candidates, his name was the least contentious, with the main opposition party also giving him a tacit nod, though it is highly unlikely to participate in the presidential election on April 29.

It wouldn’t make more than a symbolic difference if it does, of course. An AL candidate has no chance of losing in an AL-dominated parliament, but soliciting opposition input for something as important as the election of the president would have been an even more welcome move.

With much of its senior leadership still in jail, one can understand the BNP’s unwillingness to officially be a part of the election process, but its tacit approval of Hamid is a promising signal.

The Awami League itself could and should have gone further as well by attempting to initiate a dialogue with the opposition about candidates, giving them an opportunity to feel included in the process.  Since the BNP refuses to speak with the government until its leaders are freed, it may have been futile, but the gesture itself would have been helpful, and the need to seek consensus for the choice of a new president could have served as cover for the government to compromise with the opposition, had it a mind to do so.

It was not to be. However, in our current climate of constant and violent brinkmanship, we hope that Abdul Hamid’s nomination for the presidency can be a harbinger of potential compromise and cooperation.  With his relative acceptability to the opposition, the presumptive next president can also build bridges and mend fences, and serve as an honest broker between the warring political factions.

Abdul Hamid’s nomination for the presidency is thus a postive development and a hopeful sign. But whether he can rise to the occasion or not remains to be seen.

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